Scientists have found that parents, on average, are less happy and have less life satisfaction than couples who don’t have children. This is true both while they are raising their children and later on, after the kids have left home.
But hang on a second — surely we're not all going through these trials and tribulations for no reason? No, we're not. It turns out that happiness is only part of the equation.
In his book Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-Being, author and positive psychologist Martin Seligman writes that people continue to have children because there are other rewards besides clinically defined happiness, including close relationships to others, positive emotions and a sense of meaning in life.
Knowing what to expect can help new parents focus on maintaining or even enhancing their relationship after the birth of their child. Only about one-third of new parents are able to do this; the rest report a decrease in the quality of their relationship and a rise in hostility and conflict up to three years after their child’s arrival.
To help parents gain that focus, St. Louis Healthy Families offers workshops called Bringing Baby Home to help couples prepare for the obstacles their relationship may face. For example, husbands and wives may be unprepared for the shift in roles to dad and mom. Husbands may look differently at their wives after they are in the mom role, or wives may find that their husband has slipped from first place in their lives to second, behind the new baby whose needs dominate daily life in so many ways.
The next workshop takes place Aug. 6 and 13 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Cornerstone Evangelical Free Church, 921 Edgar Road in Webster Groves. Couples can register by calling Lisa at 314-745-2758 or by going online to www.stlhealthyfamilies.org. The $20 cost includes food and childcare for kids up to age 11.
The workshop is an excellent St. Louis-area opportunity to take advantage of the wisdom and experience of Dr. John Gottman, a Seattle-based marriage researcher who specializes in helping couples achieve successful marriages and families. The workshops are based on his 26 years of experience and are led by certified educators. For more information on Bringing Baby Home workshops, visit www.bbhonline.org.
By Amy De La Hunt, Health Blogger for SmartParenting
Amy De La Hunt is a journalist and editor who lives in the St. Louis metro area and works across the country as a writer, copy editor, project manager and editorial consultant on everything from fiction books to monthly magazines to blog posts. When she's not chauffeuring her teenage sons to activities, Amy is an enthusiastic amateur cook, landscaper, Latin dancer and traveler. Follow Amy on Instagram @amy_in_words
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